Compilation of Initial Budget

 The compilation of our initial budget is currently underway. While our tax revenues are estimated to shrink compared with last fiscal year, the national government intends to reduce nationwide public investment by about 18.5 percent in their local finance plan. Including the supplementary budget to be presented this January, we will plan out measures to tackle and ease the drastic changes.
 Under these circumstances, we are in the middle of final adjustment toward proposing the revision of the burden charge imposed on municipalities. Currently a burden charge amounting to about 40 million yen is imposed on municipalities across the prefecture in order to cover the administrative costs for prefectural projects. We will put an end to this practice. In addition, we will do away with the subsidies which we have been providing to the municipalities for their administrative expenses, which is the opposite flow of the burden charge mentioned above.
 Between Tokyo and us, the streamlining of the burden charge for certain maintenance costs is progressing. In the case of Tottori Prefecture, the prefectural administration has never demanded that the municipalities pay the burden charge for maintenance costs. We will make no changes at all to this policy for the new fiscal year.
 Therefore, starting from the new fiscal year, we will switch to a system under which we will not ask the municipalities to bear the maintenance costs or the administrative fees. As this measure requires the approval of the municipalities, we will try to obtain this approval as swiftly as possible, and consult the prefectural assembly afterwards.
 With regard to the exchange of administrative costs between the national government and our prefecture, we are disbursing about 960 million yen as the burden charge for national projects, which is likely to be abolished. On the other hand, we are receiving subsidies totaling a little more than 1 billion yen from the national government in order to implement the administrative costs.
 At this point, it seems that we are covering some of the loss out of our own pocket, but the burden charge for the maintenance costs is likely to be largely reduced, by about 2 to 3 billion yen, according to our current estimation. In consideration thereto, the revision would seem to carry some benefit for our prefecture in financial terms.
 In any case, in regard to the relevant exchanges between municipalities and our prefectural administration, in accordance with the principles on the revision of the burden charge that the governors’ association has unanimously asked the national government to adopt, Tottori Prefectural government will swiftly work on the measures for settlement.
 In view of this compilation of the initial budget, I’m confident that I will be able to accomplish my financial goals; that is, reserving the funds exceeding 30 billion yen and reducing the burdens on future generations, by the end of my tenure.
 In this condition, I’m determined to do my best and compile an aggressive budget in order to address the stability or economy of prefectural livelihood. One such example is the unification of the kindergarten and nursery school systems, which was discussed in the National Diet yesterday. The prime minister expressed his intention to reorganize the government ministries and establish the Ministry of Children and Family, which has drawn lots of attention. Although I fervently hope that Tokyo will consider downsizing Kasumigaseki (Japan’s national bureaucracy) by measures including reorganization of the national government’s local agencies before reorganizing the government agencies, it’s all well and good to proceed with the discussions with a view to reorganizing these agencies.
 Since there have been no cases of the unification of a kindergarten and nursery school, some initial measures are necessary toward the new fiscal year, such as the construction of appropriate facilities. The prefectural administration will take measures aimed at encouraging the unification, by subsidizing such construction projects and so on. Through these measures, we are going to take the first steps toward the unification of kindergartens and nursery schools all across the prefecture.
 With regard to the issue of environment and energy, we are planning to promote the EV Town project. At the moment, we will start off by deliberating the models of the Smart Town. One of our ideas is the use of “electric vehicles (EV)” as an energy policy. However, it takes a copious amount of money to purchase such vehicles. On the other hand, even though prefectural residents want to try riding an electric vehicle, the dealers’ main clients are companies and public offices, and ordinary residents tend to refrain from buying them. Therefore, we are thinking of proposing a win-win system under which the prefectural government will mobilize such vehicles for public use on weekdays and the vehicles will be rented to private users on holidays. We are considering such business models, or administrative models, as we call them, in order to promote the EV Town. We are also seeking the possibility of laying out support measures in order to install the car stations equipped with quick rechargers all over the prefecture.
 In relation to projects, we will probably propose the budgets for support measures to host the BeSeTo Theater Festival and the year-before event for the National Rich Sea Creation Festival (as tentatively translated). Again, the compilation is currently underway.

Schedule, etc.

 On January 30, a symposium for carbon offset will be held. We are planning to invite the relevant parties of regions engaged in progressive measures and arrange talks with experts in the symposium.
 Next week, I will meet the chairman and president of Suzuki Motor Corporation, and we will hold a business negotiation fair in Hamamatsu City (in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan) with the participation of 12 companies based in Tottori Prefecture. This is the first negotiation fair that we will organize in collaboration with Suzuki Motor Corporation. I’m eager to talk with Chairman Suzuki (of Suzuki Motor Corporation) about matters such as the Northeast Asia Gateway Concept, the EV, eco-friendly cars using the hybrid technology.
 On February 4, I will attend “the Dialogue Forum with NPOs and Administrative Sector (as tentatively translated)” organized by the Japan NPO Center.

Q. How much is the decrease in tax revenues estimated to amount to?

 It’s under calculation right now. I would like to present the specific figures after they are finalized by the relevant bureaus. In any case, we will conduct aggressive fiscal management against the austere conditions.

Q. I take it that you intend to be proactive about the unification of the kindergarten and nursery school systems. What are your aims for the unification, and what are the advantages of it?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that vertically divided functions of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology may hinder the unification,) The number of dual-income households is increasing, especially in Tottori Prefecture. The idea of work-life balance needs to be promoted. We will strive to remove the boundaries between kindergarten and nursery school and shift to a framework which meets parents’ demand for a unified child-care system.
 In the case of Tottori Prefecture, the system has been switched to one streamlined with unified considerations for children and households. However, the board of education and the gubernatorial divisions are destined to be strictly separated due to their institutional natures, and there are still lots of problems. I think that the national government will need to try and work toward the revision of organizational systems in line with administrative needs.

Q. Is the said subsidization intended for municipalities? How large will its financial scale be?

 For example, we are considering subsidizing the kindergartens and nursery schools engaged in the unification through the municipalities, as a possibility. We are conducting an examination for that purpose. As assistance measures will be necessary for construction of facilities and the like, we will be prepared to provide support.

Q. Regarding the burden charge on municipalities, do you plan to get rid of it completely?

 (After the reporter’s confirming that the portion of the burden for administrative costs amounts to about 40 million yen and the portion for the maintenance costs has already ceased to be demanded, according to what Governor Hirai said,) We intend to abolish the practice completely and move toward the system under which the prefectural projects will be managed by the prefecture, the municipal projects by the municipalities, and the national projects by the national government.
 Unfortunately, Tokyo and our prefecture haven’t reached such a settlement with regard to the construction projects. Therefore, while monitoring the development of this issue, we will continue trying to proceed with the clarification of burden-sharing between the municipalities and our prefectural government.

Q. DBS Cruise Ferry has most likely summed up their business results for the past half year. Did you receive any information from DBS’s side regarding the changes in the estimation of earning and expense and the like?

 I haven’t received any yet.

Q. Will you be specific about the support measures for Gainare Tottori in the new fiscal year?

 (After the reporter’s requesting that Governor Hirai mention the specific principles, systems, the increase and decrease of the subsidies, and so on, in order to support the professional soccer team based in Tottori,) The relevant budget is under compilation now. With regard to the support measures, we are planning to maintain the current framework, including the publicity to other prefectures in Japan, or subsidization to fund their trips for the purpose of promoting sports.
 As for the variety of regional promotion projects we are conducting in collaboration with Gainare, we are also planning to maintain and proceed with the schemes which will eventually provide financial support to them by entrusting the projects to them.

Q. The population of Tottori Prefecture as of January 1 (in 2010) was announced and the rate of decrease has declined in the year 2009. Do you attribute this to the effects of the prefectural measures to encourage relocation and settlement (in Tottori)?

 (After the reporter’s mentioning that the decrease rate of the population was on the rise from the year 2002 through 2008, according to the said announcement made one day before this press conference) Our large-scale relocation measures have been aimed at rectifying this problem. We have conducted various measures and municipalities have also exerted enormous efforts for the purpose. Now I think that some positive effects are beginning to take shape as a lever to prop up the situation.
 However, the situation still remains in the balance. In order to reverse the decreasing trend, we will need to continue the relocation measures.

Q. Will you be a little more specific about the EV Town concept?

 Private establishments (car rental companies) will own electric cars and rent out the cars for us for public use on weekdays, and the car rental companies will use the EV (electric cars) on holidays for their original business, according to our plan.
 In this way, the prefecture can use the EVs for small expenses and private parties can rent the EV in order to get a feel for the experience of driving them. It’s a new concept, but we are thinking of it as one of the potential models for collaboration between public and private sectors.

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